BOSTON (AP) – Eric Chavez and the Oakland Athletics wasted no time in reviving their playoff push.

Chavez homered twice and Oakland’s first five batters got hits as the Athletics broke out of their slump with a 12-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

It was a big victory for the Athletics, who had lost their previous two games, dropping out of a tie for first place in the AL West. The A’s remained two games behind division-leading Los Angeles, which beat Detroit 5-3.

“If we just continue to play like we are, it should be enough to make this thing real interesting,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “Hitting has been riding a roller-coaster. Some guys are feeling good about themselves after today.”

Oakland got four runs in the first inning off Matt Clement (13-6), scored three more in the second, then added five in the fifth against Jeremi Gonzalez for a 12-0 lead. The A’s had scored just three runs and totaled 12 hits in their previous two games. Oakland had 15 hits in this one.

“A lot of teams do score early and kind of shut it down,” said Chavez, who drove in five runs. “It was just a refreshing day for everybody, I think, especially the coaching staff. We’ve been playing some tight ballgames and they’ve been able to sit back and relax and enjoy this one.”

Chavez went 3-for-4 after entering in a 4-for-31 slide. He singled and scored in the first, hit a two-run homer in the second and added a three-run homer in the fifth, his 25th home run of the season.

Marco Scutaro hit a two-run homer in the fifth, and Mark Kotsay drove in three runs with a two-run double in the first and an RBI single in the second.

Kirk Saarloos (10-7) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. The big lead didn’t change his approach.

“You don’t want to go back out there and let them right back in the game,” he said. “You can’t really change your philosophy on how you’re going to pitch.”

Oakland has 13 games left and begins a 10-game homestand against Minnesota on Monday.

Boston, which split the four-game series, maintained its 11/2-game AL East lead over the New York Yankees, who lost 6-5 at Toronto. The Red Sox star a six-game trip Monday at Tampa Bay.

“We’re fortunate that the Yankees lost,” Boston’s Johnny Damon said. “Everyone is scoreboard watching, the players and the fans.”

Clement gave up seven runs and eight hits in 1 1-3 innings, the shortest start of his career not related to injury. On Saturday, Oakland managed just four hits in a 2-1 defeat, its fourth loss in five games.

“Just a nightmare of a day,” said Clement, who lost his third straight start. “I left a lot of balls over the plate, and they did what you are supposed to do with balls over the plate.”

Chavez’s first homer followed Kotsay’s RBI single in the second. His next one came after Mark Ellis doubled and Kotsay walked.

“I’m an aggressive hitter,” Chavez said after hitting both homers on the first pitch. “I’ve always had the same approach.”

The Red Sox began emptying their bench in sixth, when Bill Mueller homered. Boston scored twice in the seventh on a run-scoring double by Tony Graffanino and an RBI single by Roberto Petagine.

Boston, which leads the major leagues in batting average and runs, scored just 10 runs in the series.

“Normally, our bats will get us back in it, but that didn’t happen today,” Damon said.

Oakland, which had 26 runs in its previous eight games, had no offensive problems Sunday. Mark Ellis and Jason Kendall started the game with singles, then scored on Kotsay’s double. Singles by Chavez and Scott Hatteberg produced another run, and Jay Payton’s RBI grounder made it 4-0.

Notes: Clement went one inning on Sept. 27, 2001, when he was hit by a Brian Jordan line drive. … Boston 3B Kevin Youkilis left after hurting his right ring finger while fielding a grounder by Scutaro leading off the seventh. With Boston trailing 12-1, Youkilis had just entered the game that inning as a replacement for Mueller. Youkilis was to undergo X-rays to check for a break. … The Red Sox allowed more than 10 runs for the first time in 22 games. … Saarloos became Oakland’s fifth starter with at least 10 wins this season. The only other time the team had that many was last year. … The Athletics clinched their seventh consecutive season with better than a .500 record.

AP-ES-09-18-05 1901EDT

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